While most soldiers like to unwind and enjoy their time off, some find it hard to separate themselves from their work – especially when their military job is intense and supercharged. Many find it hard not to have that adrenaline rush all the time. Some, like Army Ranger Alex Blum, who turned to a life of crime, say the military training they received is to blame.
In August 2006, Blum and four other Rangers robbed a Bank of America in Tacoma. The men, armed with AK-47’s and body armor, robbed the bank with ease as their military training made crowd control, planning, and organizing the robbery easy.
They made off with $54,000 but a citizen wrote down Blum’s (who was the driver in the robbery) license plate number and gave it to cops. Shortly after the robbery, Blum, Chad Palmer, Tigra Robinson, Nathan Dunmall and the ringleader of the group, Luke Elliot Sommer, were arrested and charged with armed robbery.
The majority of the men were sentenced to over a decade in jail. Sommers, who fled to Canada and hid in his mother’s basement, was extradited and sentenced to 24 years. Blum, who did not take part in the actual robbery – he remained outside as the getaway driver –was only sentenced to 16 months in prison. All five of the men were dishonorably discharged.
Now, Blum’s cousin Ben has written a book entitled, Ranger Games: A Story Of Soldiers, Family And An Inexplicable Crime. The book examines the noticeable changes Alex underwent from a kid graduating high school to becoming an Army Ranger.
“Before I joined the Army, I was vibrant, funny, easygoing, loving and independent,” Alex explained to Ben. “When I got my tan beret, I was a shell. I was an angry, testosterone-driven p****… I was unable to value human life.”
Alex attributes his decision to turn to crime partly to his Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP), a program all Rangers complete. Alex recalled a time when he was forced to eat an entire box of ice cream sandwiches and run until he puked them all up. He also stated that he would cut his hand with a knife just to stay up for a grueling 30 hours.
When Alex met Sommers in April 2006, he said that Sommers, an experienced Ranger, continued to indoctrinate the new soldiers in the unit, messing with their heads. Alex recalled Sommers like to play a game he called “suicide check.” Ben wrote, “The requirement then was to point it at your head and pull the trigger. To examine the chamber first was an insult, forbidden.”
New York Times writer Jennifer Senior, who reviewed the book, says she understands that the Ranger program is “brutal,” but Senior balks at the suggestion that the training is solely to blame for Alex’s poor decisions. “Blum suggests, through extensive quotes from Alex, that it [the training] drains its graduates of their individuality and moral reasoning.” She also suggests that the writer “never directly investigates the worst of Alex’s claims” which leaves the reader wondering how much of his account is true.
Whether you believe the Rangers are responsible for Alex’s actions or not, this is probably an interesting read.
h/t Daily Mail